There have been many assumptions concerning the reasons the console war during E3 went down the way it did. Regardless of what type of gamer you are it is difficult to dispute that Sony landed crushing blow after crushing blow to Microsoft’s hopes to come out smelling like an expensive bouquet of freshly cut roses. Objectively looking back at both press conferences it is also hard to convincingly say that Microsoft had a poor showing however, the situation simply was Sony had a better showcase because they bested their adversaries match point in just about every aspect. The only arguable exception to this may be the Xbox One’s sheer amount of exclusives, including the well-received Titanfall. I would agree with the idea that Microsoft never really stood a chance however, but the reasons may be more complicated than one may think.
One popular defense that Xbox faithful seem to be utilizing is that the majority of the finest titles showcased during Sony’s highly acclaimed press conference were in fact not exclusives; particularly the heavily focused upon Destiny, Final Fantasy XV, and Kingdom Hearts 3. Sony really only came out with The Order 1886, InFamous: Second Son and Beyond: Two Souls as far as notable exclusives are concerned; The Last of Us not withstanding because of its release timeframe. Others include Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack, but both likely fall to the middle of the pack as far as persuasive power to inspiring system pre-orders. Microsoft on the other hand played their cards with Dead Rising 3, Quantum Break, Project Spark, Titanfall, and a new Halo to be revealed in the future just to name a few.
With developer track record and franchise legacy seemingly on Microsoft’s side for this part the fact of the matter is that a vast majority of the most anticipated games and the ones that will bring in a greater revenue for both systems will be the multi-platform superstars such as Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Final Fantasy XV, Destiny, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and The Division. That being said, for a hundred dollars less gamers can still play 75% of the best games of the next generation as it stands now plus quality exclusives that, if matched with Microsoft’s offering cancels out about half quantity wise. This really only leaves PS4 owners with missing out on only a handful of games that still have potential to turn multi-platform later down the line or still remain playable by those who also own an ample enough PC. Speaking from my own personal perspective (since I am amongst those who will own a PS4 well before an Xbox One) I will really only miss not being able to play Dead Rising. While Titanfall does pique my curiosity, I don’t foresee missing out on it for the first year keeping me up at night.
As it was already mentioned, the most obvious reason Sony decisively pulled away from the Microsoft is the more agreeable price tag. While company representatives and some gamers may believe that in the long run the features Xbox One provides will be worth the hundred dollars extra, nothing has been shown presently to back this up with conviction. The need to remain resolute in their business practices and confident in their product both present a bit of a deterrent toward possibly lowering the price pre-release, and unless Microsoft didn’t completely blow their load at E3 with the most profound features they can offer nothing at this point will stop the PS4 from outselling the Xbox One by a landslide inside the first year.
Another of the most shining segments of the Sony presser involved a dedicated focus on a group of titles that represent more than just the gaming experiences they will offer; it speaks volumes of the desire to cater to a wide variety of core gamers. This began with Greg Kasavin, the creative head of the Indie kingpin developer Supergiant Games, out on stage to solidify a partnership that would then follow with news that several highly awaited indie titles would release for the PS4 before the Xbox One; Transistor of course leading the charge. Also among this movement are Outlast, Don’t Starve, and The Witness. While the same potential for some of these titles going multi-platform before final release exists, the time taken out to show that the PS4 will clearly be indie friendly speaks to an entire group of gamers that crave the play value of smaller passion projects. Microsoft’s inability to provide a similar promise damages their value in the eyes of many niche and hardcore gamers significantly.
The decisive nail in the coffin came when it was revealed just how differently Sony and Microsoft viewed the longevity of the second hand game market. It’s actually quite interesting to see how two competing companies can view a giant staple on the industry they cater to on such opposite ends of the spectrum. Anyone trying to make sense of it all if they are confused by Sony’s leniency on the concept (or are looking at it from a strictly business perspective) may feel that the decisions made at E3 may eventually begin to reverse polarity the further into the future we go, I can assure you that Sony’s decision is more business friendly than it seems. It is simply because it is ultimately consumer friendly, and the company that makes playing games, saving money, and encouraging sharing and word of mouth will make the population that keeps you in business happy.
When you bring used games into the equation, you’re also making things easier for casual gamers or even those who game even less to make impulse decisions on which system they should buy just so they can game whenever is convenient for them. These are not the hardcore gamers who will go the extra mile to buy games new to better benefit their favorite developers, and even the majority of the hardcore gamer crowd needs to save money from their own pockets. The decline of corporate giants will obviously not happen overnight because of disgruntled fans, but it isn’t the fall of a company that Sony is ensuring, it is the going above and beyond to gain long lasting favor. That is a true business plan, and what is good for business is good for gamers.
It’s almost a shame to see Microsoft fall on such hard luck coming out of the gate with the new generation as they truly did have an impressive showing; particularly their focus on games. There will be the group of gamers that will of course buy both systems along with those who intend to regardless down the line when their financial situation allows for it; but ask any gamer who owns multiple systems and they will be able to tell you their favorite and why fairly conclusively. Xbox One pre-orders are not that far behind the PS4, but a leg up on the competition is not won by Microsoft this generation like it was with the 360/PS3 war. If the importance that early advantage from what we have already seen is indicative of the future, then Sony may already be king.